Friends, this is a big month! The 2019 PowerSheets collection launches in 20 days (yahoo!!), we have two new websites coming, my podcast launches, etc., etc. Those things reflect months of prayer and hard work, but they are not the reason this is a big month.

This month is big because I’m seeing small things that have added up to the big things.

A lot of life feels like it happens to us, doesn’t it? There is little we can do about many of our circumstances in various seasons of life. But. But! Sometimes the small decisions that we can make are the ones that count the most. Are you ready for this? Did you know we make an average of 35,000 decisions a day? Those decisions, big and small, all have arrows attached to them, pointing us in one direction or another.

Photo by the amazing and wonderful Gina Z!

This month, I’m choosing to throw off everything that hinders me, and I’m aiming my decision arrows at doing life the way He wants me to. What does that mean exactly? I’m still walking this out, but there are some larger decisions we’ve made that I can share. For one, we’re moving! 🙂 “We” meaning our office! We close on a new space in a few days (ahhh!). This is a turning point for all of us—and such a God story. I’ve worked from home for fourteen years, and this change has felt daunting in some ways, but these words keep coming to mind: “I will go before you and will level the mountains” (Isaiah 45:2). He truly has. I’ll still work from home a few days a week, but I’ll be in the new space on the other days. This will be so good for all of us! While moving our office out of our house is a more tangible leap of faith, for me it has been the small things—little daily decisions made over time—that are adding up to the big things. With small but intentional decisions in our family routines, fueling the bodies and souls in this home, where I’m spending my time (and where I’m not, like social media for the most part), and the way I do everyday life with the Lord, I’m seeing fruit.

These changes and decisions haven’t come overnight, though; fruitful things often start long before the month we’re in—perhaps even years ago.

Take Big Rita, for instance. We let Big Rita, our giant pumpkin, loose from her vine a few days ago. Do you know how many years we tried to grow a giant pumpkin—or any pumpkin at all for that matter? Seven. Seven years, people! Year one: squirrels. Year two: yep, Nutty the Squirrel does it again. Year three: our baby pumpkin was run over by a car. Year four: too much rain. Year five: too much heat. Year six: I just don’t even know. Year seven: We switched seed varieties, and I got some advice from a wise farmer friend. Over these seven years of waiting and patience and waiting some more, the Lord was teaching us a beautiful lesson: all things (and life change) come in His perfect timing. We didn’t grow a giant pumpkin overnight—it grew us over the last seven years. She came right on time. (I even took her to MTH!)

Here’s a look back at September and what’s ahead this month…

Harvesting our purple potatoes was like a treasure hunt!

Between unexpectedly traveling home to Gulf Breeze, going under contract on our new space (totally unexpected—totally God—and too long of a story for this little blog post!), and officially starting the new homeschool year, September was full and good. There was a lot of praying and seeking Him.

My September Monthly Goals Progress:

— Seek Him. / Yes. As mentioned above. Having the Bible open all the time has helped me do this more than ever.
— Begin our cultivated homeschool year. / Yes! I also released my free downloadable Cultivated Homeschool Planner.
— Record the podcast. / Progress here! The intro has been recorded, podcast cover art has been designed, a name has been chosen, episode topics outlined, an editor has been hired, and now all I have to do is record content starting this week.
Prepare well for the 2019 PowerSheets launch. / In progress! We released the new covers yesterday!
— Love Josh + Sarah and my parents well on our trip to Florida. / We canceled this trip last-minute with hurricane Florence headed our way, then re-booked it last-minute again to escape the storm with the kids. It was a needed and refreshing trip!

Watching the sunrise on the beach with my buddies. : ) 

— Celebrate Rosh Hashana. / Yes! Apples and honey all around!
— Have a surrendered quarterly sabbath. / Yes! Out of all the action steps I took from the Cultivated Calendar teachings, this is the one I’m most grateful for. Last fall, I looked ahead at my 2018 calendar and went ahead and blocked off 3 days once a quarter to take off. Instead of letting my calendar dictate my life, I made the intentional decision to block off these days ahead of time. This has been helpful!
— Savor September. / Yes, and I am so grateful for my PowerSheets for reminding me of this goal. I had several moments with the kids that are etched in my brain now from stopping to savor them and give thanks to the God who make them happen.

— Prayerfully lead the 54th Making Things Happen Conference/ This was the highlight of my year. I have yet to post about it because it’s hard to put a life-changing experience into adequate words. It was incredible. All praise to Him! I love these ladies above! Photo by the delightful Rachel Coffey.

September Weekly Goals:

— Praise! / Yes! My weekly goal was simply to praise Him. In song, dancing around with the kiddos, on hikes, in conversation, in art, in words, in prayer—in as many ways as I could muster!

September Daily Goals:

— Chronological Bible. / I finished the Old Testament!!! My heart did cartwheels finishing Malachi and I actually felt sad about it. Then, I remembered I can read it again next year! I’m continuing my number one goal with this daily Bible reading using the Blue Letter Bible Chronological reading plan on Youversion.
— Strength + Joy / Progress was made here despite a neck injury that has been a little tricky. This is my goal to strength train. I do abs and some free weights here at home with the kiddos!

Now to October! 

October Monthly Goals:

— Throw off everything that hinders me and aim my arrows at doing life the way He wants me to. I’ll report back next month on what exactly this looked like for me! I want to walk the walk before I talk about it.
— Enter into the most wonderful season of service and joy with our team and the good work He has blessed us with!
— Share why I have the hope I have.
— Bring the life of God to our children, which starts with us flourishing in faith.
— Get into a rhythm with homeschool. The Cultivated Homeschool Planner has been a game changer for me. We have our plans, now it’s time to get into a consistent rhythm, try them out, and adjust as needed. So far, so great!

My quarterly PowerSheets goal refresh was right on time this week!

October Weekly Goals:

— Take care of our temples of the Holy Spirit. Ari expressed wanting to grow in balance and wellness, and I want to teach our kiddos healthy habits too—all with the aim of honoring the Lord and loving others well. We’ve already started cooking lessons with the kiddos, including knife skills for Grace so she can prepare fruits and vegetables in the kitchen. Here’s a great video we watched to learn the basics!
— Pray for a *few* friends. As I was praying and asking God what He wanted me to work on this month, He kept nudging me to be in deeper prayer for just a few close friends instead of praying lightly for a lot of friends. I will pray for whomever He tells me to, but I also love this challenge to pour my heart out for friends in need more than usual this month.
— All of them. I encourage you to word goals however they make the most sense to you—don’t worry about making them clear to everyone else. Case in point: this goal! “All of them” for me means a deeper commitment to cultivating the hearts in this home more than ever—and to celebrate the fruit we are already seeing.
— Believing a miracle happened in our lives and acting like it! Let me just go ahead and get this goal in motion right here and now. Friends, Ari and I are not the same people we were several years ago. The heart and life change we’ve experienced is significant, but this fact is easy to forget in day-to-day life. I do not want to forget this. A miracle happened in our lives and remembering this spurs me forward to share the hope we have. His grace is a real thing and it changes everything!

October Daily Goals:

— Bathe in the Word. I’m continuing my number one goal with this daily Bible reading using the Blue Letter Bible Chronological reading plan on YouVersion.
— Seek Him in all things instead of doing them my way or without asking Him first.
— Praise + joy! Working out with praise on my lips and joy in my soul!
— Speak restorative words. The idea of speaking restorative words came from a marriage class that Ari and I have been going through with our church. I want to practice this with everyone I meet! The words we share have the potential to change lives. 🙂

I love October!

Verses I’m loving for October:

Hebrews 12:1-3 has my heart right now, specifically the words “throw off everything that hinders.”

And this one… ‘Agree with God and be at peace; thereby good will come to you. Receive instruction from His mouth, and lay up His words in your heart. If you return to the Almighty, you will be restored: If you remove wickedness far from your tent and assign your nuggets to the dust, your gold of Ophir to the rocks in the ravines, then the Almighty will be your gold, the choicest silver for you. Surely then you will find delight in the Almighty and will lift up your face to God. You will pray to him, and he will hear you, and you will fulfill your vows. What you decide on will be done, and light will shine on your ways’ (Job 22:21-29).

My little buddy learning rock, paper, scissors from one of our good friends at a wedding we had the joy of attending last week! These little moments in life are the best!

Your turn! What are your goals for October? What are you cultivating in this new month? I’ll pick one of you to send a special surprise box of goodies to from the Cultivate What Matters shop. I love sending real mail, and I love hearing your thoughts! Congrats to September’s winner, Meghann! Bonus giveaway: Take a guess at how much Big Rita weighs and whoever gets the closest will win some of our new shop products that launch on October 24th!

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Long before our first day of homeschool, when I was still in the preparation stages, I was asked what curriculum we were using, what my best tips were, and even to speak at homeschool conventions. This felt a little like being asked to teach others how to ride a bike before I ever touched one myself. 🙂

I understand why friends asked me these well-meaning questions, though—I asked those same questions of others myself!

There are so many unknowns when you begin this journey. How do I do this? What do I do exactly? What if I mess up and don’t do enough? Where do I even START!? There are a million ways to do school (the challenge), and you get to do what’s best for your unique and wonderful child (the blessing).

While I’m no homeschool expert, I am deeply passionate about cultivating what matters—and a huge part of that for us is growing the hearts we’ve been entrusted with. Moving into our second year of homeschooling, I have learned a few things, but I’m still—and likely always will be—the student here.

I haven’t shared much about our homeschooling journey for the reasons above, and because this has been a really special and sacred time for just Grace and me. I’ve shared so much of my life online, and this has been a sweet experience for just the two of us. Here are some basics of how we do it, though:

We homeschool because… Simply because God led us here. Our reason for homeschooling might be easier to explain, perhaps, if I had a strong schooling philosophy that leaned toward homeschool, or if I were homeschooled myself, or if there were no great schools in the area. None of these things are true though! The honest answer is God made it clear to us with every little step forward that this would be our path for Grace. Through conversations with friends, being around other homeschool families, little nudges and opened doors… it just fit. Much like our journey to adoption, homeschool was not on our radar for life, but we’re so glad He planted us here. There are so many ways to grow our children’s hearts well, whether that’s a wonderful public school education (my path!), private school (Ari’s path), homeschool, charter school, boarding school, unschool, or circus school (technically I was required to take clowning in college so this is a real thing, people!).

I don’t do it all. Grace goes to a “homeschool school” two days a week where she does history, social studies, and science, and I work with her for the other two days. Friday she does piano lessons and gets to play with her siblings and just have fun being a kiddo.

We don’t use a formal curriculum. I’m using recommendations for each subject from close friends whom I trust. Kindergarten was our year to build foundations, learning how to learn together. If I had to put us in a category, I’d say we’re Charlotte-Mason-ish with a side of Grace-likes-workbooks. My favorite resources: My friend, Lara, has been a wonderful resource and encourager. I also love Read Aloud Revival. Her book, The Read Aloud Family, is awesome. I have modeled our year after some of the Ambleside Online suggestions. We use our Write the Word for Kids to practice handwriting and as a fun way to get into the Bible. There are a few of blogs I occasionally read too, but my very favorite resources have been in-person relationships. We are in a weekly Bible study with three other couples, two of which are long-time homeschool families—one even runs a homeschool school. My friend, Natascha, runs a homeschool school, too. Many of our church friends homeschool. The list goes on. The Lord built this community around us, and we are grateful.

School this week with my buddies. : ) 

We finally have a school name! It took us our entire first year to come up with a school name that fit. Trying to create a name that embodied our school and also looked good on a future transcript felt like trying to name a child! Our final decision? Thanks to Ari’s suggestion, we chose C.C. Austin Day School. Cecil Clyde Austin was my grandfather, who I have written about many times. He greatly impacted my faith, and Joshua even has “Cecil” as a middle name. We often tell stories about him to our kids, flip through his old Bibles, and I probably mention his name at least once a week. Our school name makes us think of his humility and passion for the Lord. We love it! Now, onto our mascot, chosen by Grace: a unicorn, naturally!

We do morning time. A resource I’ve enjoyed for this is Pam Barnhill’s website.

We take it day by day, week by week, and we plan to take it year by year. Right now, this is where God wants us. We’re open to whatever He wants for each child in the future.

Homeschool is challenging and wonderful all at once. Our journey so far has been, to put it mildly, spiritually refining. It’s the hardest and most rewarding thing I’ve done. And some days, it’s totally overwhelming!

To help me—and you—I have a little surprise!

Feeling overwhelmed by homeschool planning? I can relate! When I began our homeschool adventure, I prayed, researched, and readied myself as much as I could—but the most helpful thing I did was start each day with open hands. More than growing Grace’s mind, I wanted to cultivate her heart. I needed a simple system to stay focused on our big picture goals while getting the day-to-day learning done, too.

I created The Cultivated Homeschool Planner (a free download!) to help me get organized and focused on what matters most in our homeschool—and I’m excited to share it with you, too!

It is possible to set intentional goals and tend to them little by little with this customizable planner. No matter your method of schooling—or if your homeschool terms are six weeks long, three month periods, or traditional “semester” lengths, you can customize this planner to meet your needs. *I had mine printed and bound at a local printer which was significantly less expensive than FedEx Kinkos, and much better quality. I had them size mine down to 7.5 x 10. Printing on a home printer and using a three-ring binder is a great option, too!


I hope you enjoy this free download as much as I do!

Your turn! Do you homeschool? Considering it, but not sure where to start? Have tips or favorite resources for newbies? Feel free to share below!

P.S. 2019 PowerSheets are coming in 24 days! Yahoo!!!

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I have been half-joking lately that my next book will be called, No. Alternate titles: The Year of No, All the Things God Has Told Me to Say No To, and my personal favorite, No, No, No. 😉

This has been a year of saying yes to the things that matter in the big picture and, inherent in choosing those things, is saying no to all the rest. No to doing it all. No to distractions and negative self-talk. No to worry. No to opportunities that would take me away from my family. No to doing the same things I’ve always done and getting the same results I’ve always gotten. Yes to cultivating the hearts in this home. Yes to doing the things I was put on this earth to do.

We loved apple picking in Morganton, NC, last month!

An excerpt from Cultivate that I keep coming back to and living out:

‘It’s simple gardening math: plants need space for roots to grow, and they need adequate nutrients. If you want them to flourish, then give them these things. Untangling our lives can feel more complicated, though. Relationships, expectations of others, deadlines, and dates press on us and feel impossible to unravel and unrush. So how do you do it? How do you know what to say no to when it all feels urgent? How do you simplify? A powerful fertilizer to nourish the things that truly matter in life is the word no. We often think of no as a scary and disconnecting word, but it has the power to be one of the most loving and connecting words you use. It’s okay to let go, not keep up, and not do it all. It’s okay to disappoint people in favor of growing what God has given you to grow. It’s okay to say no. We have only so much space, energy, and nutrients in our lives. I don’t know about you, but I do not thrive in an overcrowded life. Whether it’s too many dreams planted at once or too many social commitments, work projects, family activities, or unresolved conflicts, all those things take up space. When I try to do it all, nothing grows well.’

I had a life-shifting realization a couple weeks ago: perhaps I’m not just in a “season” of say no to make room for the things God has given me to cultivate. Perhaps, this is a lifelong commitment. Letting this thought take root has given me so much freedom to say no with joy and without regret. This commitment to “no” is where the good stuff is.

Happiness at the top of Grandfather Mountain!

So, you may be wondering…how can you say no when it’s so hard?

When your yes is crystal clear, it’s actually quite easy. Get clear on the yes, and you can’t help but choose it over all the rest.

Want a free printable to help you get there? Download the Intentional Life List and name your yes’s and no’s.

August was a month of getting clear on my yeses. A trip to the mountains—looking over the green valleys and expanse of God’s creation—put a lot in perspective for me, making my narrow worries seem so small. I came back ready for change, ready to make firm decisions to say yes to the things God has given me to grow.

In the Grandfather Mountain wildflowers with my favorite buddies!

August Monthly Goals Progress:

— Trust in the Lord. Over my own efforts and abilities and plans, my top priority is to trust the Lord with it all. / Yes, this was at the forefront of my thoughts as I waded through many unknowns and challenges in August. Trusting in His power over my own is a whole lot easier than feeling like I have to be in control all the time!
— Praise-ful night away with Ari. We are going “away” for one night—right down the road to a log cabin bed and breakfast. I am hopeful this is a time Ari and I can spend remembering God’s faithfulness and praising Him through our conversations. / What a fun adventure this was. We had a great time (loved eating at Vin Rouge as per Emily’s recommendation) and yet, after being away for less than 24 hours, we couldn’t wait to see the kids again!
— Cultivate my calendar. Rather than wait until right before the holidays to make meaningful plans, and to look ahead to 2019, I’m going to take a look now and cultivate my calendar. / Yes! This was simple and so helpful! I did this in 15 minutes from my phone. I went day by day through my iCal and wrote down action steps to prepare well for events and needs ahead—and some things I did right then and there! For example, I texted a babysitter for one event and made a gift list for another. I shifted some things around that didn’t work and made sure all of our ducks were in a row. 15 minutes of cultivating my calendar saved me so much time for the future! More below…
— Teach the Cultivate Your Calendar live workshop. This was one of the most popular webinars I did last year, and I’m excited to dive in again so we can all prepare well for the months ahead! / I highly recommend watching this replay—so many tips and aha moments from everyone who has taken this workshop! 
— Prepare well for the homeschool year! Wooooo! We’ve been doing a little homeschool here and there this summer, and it’s about to ramp up. Any other mom’s feeling the back-to-school crunch too? I had a great conversation over dinner last night with some wiser-than-me mamas and it was so refreshing. Their advice: You don’t have to do it all. You don’t have to be perfect. You don’t have to be an expert. Little by little progress adds up. (Sound familiar?! 🙂 ) It was refreshing to be reminded of these truths as I prepare for the year ahead! / I may have a VERY EXCITING free download coming soon in regards to this one. I am feeling great about our year ahead!
— Record the Podcast. Yes! It’s happening! I’m a little scared typing this. I have no idea what I’m doing, but I’m doing it! Any votes for the name of said podcast or for episodes you’d like to see included? I’d love to hear! / We have a name! (Thank you for all of your suggestions!) And I start recording in a few days! Ahhhh!!!! Can’t wait to share more soon. If you have suggestions on episode topics, I’d love to hear!

Teaching my buddy how to feed chickens at Spence’s Farm for his birthday!

— Celebrate Josh’s 3rd year + life! Josh is our rainbow baby (we had a miscarriage before we started our adoption process and simultaneously found out I was pregnant). His existence is a miracle and I want to intentionally take time to remember and praise God for this! / So much praise! It was simple and sweet to celebrate his birthday with friends at the farm and then in the mountains on his actual birthday to remember God’s goodness!
— Family praise-cation. I know, I know—I have a thing for making up new words with “praise” or “pray” in them to keep me focused on what matters! (Case in point: Pray-oritize. Verb. To prioritize through praying about what He wants on your to-do list!) We are taking a week-long trip to Boone and Asheville. We’re going to Tweetsie (Josh can’t wait to ride the train) and Grandfather Mountain (I have been wanting to go for two years!) and the Biltmore. I can’t wait! / This trip. It was my favorite vacation ever—and not because it was smooth and easy. We had our meltdowns (all of us!) and challenges, but what was so sweet about this trip was having the time and space to love each other through the challenges in new ways. Time was the biggest blessing. Time to talk. Time to feel all the emotions. Time to take deep breaths of mountain air. It was so good for us all.

August Weekly Goals:

— Pray on my knees. I’m feeling a need for some extra surrender this month. / Yes, there was a lot of surrender and prayer time.
— Praise with the kids. I’ve already started this—intentionally voicing praise for God’s blessings or answered prayers, instead of just thinking them to myself! / Yes! Progress here too.
— Write the Word Wednesday + Bible journaling. Every Wednesday, the kids and I do our Write the Word journals together. I’m adding Bible journaling to this so I spend time praying over Grace and writing notes to her in her Bible in prep for this new school year. / We did our Write the Word journals but I didn’t do much Bible journaling.

August Daily Goals:

— Chronological Bible. I’m continuing my number one goal with this daily Bible reading using the Blue Letter Bible Chronological reading plan on Youversion. / Yes! We are in Ezekiel.
— Strength + Joy – This is my goal to strength train. I do abs and some free weights here at home with the kiddos! / Hooray yes! I did strength training a few times and lots of mountain hikes and carrying kiddos!

On to September! 

September Monthly Goals:

— Seek Him. This is my top priority for September (and always!)—to seek the Lord in my days, moments, thoughts, actions, decisions, homeschooling, parenting, marriage, and in loving others well. Practically speaking, this means stopping to pray, to ask Him what He wants me to do, and reading His word every chance I get. I have an open Bible on my desk, an open Bible on my dining room table, and the front page of my phone has the YouVersion Bible app right where it’s easiest to click with my thumb. The easier you make it to read the Word, the less likely you’ll be to choose something else! 🙂
— Begin our cultivated homeschool year. More to come here soon!
— Record the podcast. 
— Prepare well for the 2019 PowerSheets launch
— Love Josh + Sarah and my parents well on our trip to Florida. I’m taking the two little ones to see my parents for a few days while Ari takes Grace to visit her cousins in Omaha—I’m praying for smooth travels all around and opportunities to love others well.
— Celebrate Rosh Hashana. Our kiddos love this new year celebration with apples and honey—and Ari blowing his shofar.
— Have a surrendered quarterly sabbath. Out of all the action steps I took from the Cultivated Calendar teachings, this is the one I’m most grateful for. Last fall, I looked ahead at my 2018 calendar and went ahead and blocked off 3 days once a quarter to take off. Instead of letting my calendar dictate my life, I made the intentional decision to block off these days ahead of time. This has been helpful!
— Prayerfully lead the 54th Making Things Happen ConferenceThe fall conference is sold out, and spring tickets will be on sale later this month. I can’t wait to see everyone soon!
— Savor September. Forever ago, I started a hashtag—#SavorSeptember—to help my mind and heart enjoy the change of season. I’m picking it back up again this month to slow my thoughts and praise Him at every turn!

September Weekly Goals:

— Praise! My weekly goal is simply to praise Him! In song, dancing around with the kiddos, on hikes, in conversation, in art, in words, in prayer—in as many ways as I can muster!

Out on a prayer walk with my favorite sisters. Many of us have known each other for almost a decade. We’ve prayed together, studied the Word, enjoyed many a barbecue, and shared a lot of laughs over these years. It hit me as we were out walking together last weekend that these are my people. When I was in college, I would envision who my adult friends might be—the people who would be there consistently for years and years through ups and downs. I realized during this walk, that I’m in it. These (and more not pictured) are those people. I am grateful.

September Daily Goals:

— Chronological Bible. I’m continuing my number one goal with this daily Bible reading using the Blue Letter Bible Chronological reading plan on Youversion.
— Strength + Joy – This is my goal to strength train. I do abs and some free weights here at home with the kiddos! 

Verses I’m loving for September:

‘Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland’ (Isaiah 43:18-19).

‘But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,
whose confidence is in him.
They will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit’ (Jeremiah 17:7-8).

A view from my first solo hike through Grandfather Mountain. It was hard and glorious, and so fun to see the kids and Ari cheering me on when I reached the end! (I have found a new passion in hiking! Any hikers out there?)

Your turn! What are your goals for September? What are you cultivating in this new month? I’ll pick one of you to send a special surprise box of goodies to from the Cultivate What Matters shop. I love sending real mail, and I love hearing your thoughts! Congrats to August’s winner, Cassie!

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Have you seen this meme going around?

Image from Kaylyn Van Driesum via Letterfolk

Life can feel this way, right? But! What if there was a way to slow down the crazy train and be present right here—and prepared for what’s ahead?

There is!

Get my best tips and tools for cultivating your schedule and celebrating people well along the way in this free workshop: How to Cultivate Your Calendar. Watch now below!

A little forethought goes a long way! I’d love to hear your favorite takeaway from the workshop! What stood out to you the most?

To help you get back to what matters and use your time well in the season ahead, visit the shop!

Get back to organized.
Get back to fun.
Get back to balance.
Get back to encouragement.
Get back to community.
Get back to motivated.
Get back to planting seeds of faith.

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What a month July was! It was filled with many significant work events (our quarterly team Summit and our 2019 product shoot) and… the Great Peach Harvest of 2018! We’ve had our Elberta peach tree for 7 years, and we’ve never had more than 1 – 2 peaches. Well, I’ve heard it said before ( 😉 ) that good things grow over time, little by little, and our peach tree wowed us this year with 100 peaches (yes, we were blown away!). We have eaten the best peaches we’ve ever had at nearly every meal for the last two weeks, and we’re using the last dozen to make peach ice cream tonight. July 2018 will be forever marked in our minds by this sweet display of God’s faithfulness! Between the peaches, blueberry picking and so much garden goodness (our giant pumpkin is… well, giant!), it was a great month filled with great people.

Here’s a recap of my goal progress from July and my August goals are below, too!

July Monthly Goals Progress:

— PEACE—bring the life of God to my family—it starts with me! “Peace” has been jumping out at me at every turn lately. In my Bible reading, in songs, in my prayers—everywhere. So, I’m listening and I started to study it a little. I found this definition that struck me: “Peace, or shalom, comes from aligning with His purposes and it comes from His presence.” This is my top priority this month—to trust Him and experience His peace as I let go. // Yes, God gave me so much peace through challenges in July. I am so grateful!
Book Club with God. I’m working this month to spend time by myself with God. // I did this once, and I count that as a win! 
— Team Summit with Your joy. Our team summit is coming next week! Eeeee!!! I can’t wait for us to all be together! // Oh my soul, this time together was powerful! We spent two days strategizing and thinking big picture. Most of all though, we spent time calling each other higher and helping each other own our unique gifts.
— Product shoot with Your joy. Our big fall product shoot is immediately after our summit! // Yes! We all worked so hard and it was worth it. Getting to spend three days with Gina and our amazing team and real-life PowerSheets users was… magic! Wait till you see the joy in these photos!
— Fully step into the Visionary role. In our company, we follow the Traction model. I’ve been making progress over the last quarter to fully step into the Visionary role, and this month I am working extra hard to solidify this. // This is something I am working tirelessly on and we are making progress! I won’t be fully in this role for another 6 months or so I don’t think, but great strides have been made. Progress, not perfection!
— Scatter joy in the Cultivate Book Club. Want to join us? It’s not too late! Get your book and sign up here. // I am looking forward to the live book club party next week!

Our shoot crew after three amazing days of creating images for you—the 2019 collection launches October 24th!

July Weekly Goals:

— Give the kids opportunities to experience Your Spirit, Lord. I love teaching our kids—and giving them opportunities to experience and discover Him on their own. This is very simple in practice. For instance, if I bring them to a garden, I don’t need to tell them what to do—they innately know how to explore and play! I can explore alongside them and be their guide to notice God’s faithfulness, but I’ve been trying to let go more here and see what they notice, too. This month, I’m focusing on bringing them to places and experiences where their hearts can discover Him—a garden, a sunrise, a creek, a bowl of berries we picked together, a stack of books. It’s a simple idea that I already see growing their hearts. // Yes! Progress here! So many of these little adventures and opportunities to notice His faithfulness happened in the garden. I’m seeing more and more how valuable that space is to their hearts.
— Build team members up in the Lord. Part of my Visionary role that I’d like to grow this month is to build up each individual team member and help her to thrive. I love the women I work alongside and have been shifting my role to be a mentor who trains up young leaders, instead of doing all the leading myself. // I had opportunities to pray with and for the team on many occasions and I am very grateful.
— Write the Word Wednesdays. I’ve been doing my own Write the Word journal each Wednesday morning while the kids do theirs (and sometimes color in mine like you saw above!). We break out the stickers and have fun all doing it together. Since Josh and Sarah are too little to write, they each do some scribbling, but there’s a good lesson even in sitting at the table to do a shared activity and talk about the Bible verse that Grace is writing. I have been working on helping Josh memorize the letters in his name and I help him trace them in his journal each week. There are lots of ways to get creative and keep it simple with little ones! // We missed this a couple times in July with the shoot and events, but it was so good the times we did it!

July Daily Goals:

— Chronological Bible. I’m continuing my number one goal with this daily Bible reading using the Blue Letter Bible Chronological reading plan on Youversion. // Yes! On track! I am still loving the audio version most days.
— Strength + Joy + Peace – This is my goal to strength train, and I phrased it this way because it motivates me to look at the big picture. I want to feel strength and joy in the journey. In making progress, I will feel peace knowing I am moving forward on taking care of the body God gave me so I can love my family well! (Tip: word your goals however they most motivate you!) // I FINALLY MADE PROGRESS HERE! Something connected for me in the way I worded this. Goals don’t have to make sense to the rest of the world, as long as they motivate you!
— Have FUN—joy in the Lord! Freedom in Christ brings joy and I want to use that freedom for good things this month! // A friend said the following words to me that just stuck: “Free people free people.” I have carried that with me since and it has reminded me to let go and give thanks!

Also in July, we celebrated Cultivators Appreciation Day— a holiday we created to celebrate our amazing Cultivate family! I got to surprise call customers, meet new friends (see below!) and talk to many of you live. What a joy to express our thanks!

On to August! 

August Monthly Goals:

— Trust in the Lord. Over my own efforts and abilities and plans, my top priority this month is to trust the Lord with it all.
— Praise-ful night away with Ari. We are going “away” for one night—right down the road to a log cabin bed and breakfast. I am hopeful this is a time Ari and I can spend remembering God’s faithfulness and praising Him through our conversations.
— Cultivate my calendar. Rather than wait till right before the holidays to make meaningful plans, and to look ahead to 2019, I’m going to take a look now and cultivate my calendar. Read on to join me for an hour-long workshop on how to cultivate your calendar too!


— Teach the Cultivate Your Calendar live workshop. This was one of the most popular webinars I did last year, and I’m excited to dive in again so we can all prepare well for the months ahead! Save the date for next Thursday at noon ET. (Save your seat here!)
— Prepare well for the homeschool year! Wooooo! It’s coming! We’ve been doing a little homeschool here and there this summer, and it’s about to ramp up. Any other mom’s feeling the back-to-school crunch too? I had a great conversation over dinner last night with some wiser-than-me mamas and it was so refreshing. Their advice: You don’t have to do it all. You don’t have to be perfect. You don’t have to be an expert. Little by little progress adds up. (Sound familiar?! 🙂 ) It was refreshing to be reminded of these truths as I prepare for the year ahead!
— Record the Podcast. Yes! It’s happening! I’m a little scared typing this. I have no idea what I’m doing, but I’m doing it! Any votes for the name of said podcast or for episodes you’d like to see included? I’d love to hear!
— Celebrate Josh’s 3rd year + life! I am so that mom, and already pulled out his baby album to tell him his birth story! His birthday is the 13th and we are having a little farm party with 3 of his friends and our family, but this goal is more about praising the Lord throughout the month for the gift of these years and for his life. Josh is our rainbow baby (we had a miscarriage before we started our adoption process and simultaneously found out I was pregnant). His existence is a miracle and I want to intentionally take time to remember and praise God for this!
— Family praise-cation. I know, I know—I have a thing for making up new words with “praise” or “pray” in them to keep me focused on what matters! (Case in point: Pray-oritize. Verb. To prioritize through praying about what He wants on your to-do list!) We are taking a week-long trip to Boone and Asheville. We’re going to Tweetsie (Josh can’t wait to ride the train) and Grandfather Mountain (I have been wanting to go for two years!) and the Biltmore. I can’t wait!

Shoot prep at my house. This photo makes me giggle—such an accurate depiction of life around here!

August Weekly Goals:

— Pray on my knees. I’m feeling a need for some extra surrender this month.
— Praise with the kids. I’ve already started this—intentionally voicing praise for God’s blessings or answered prayers, instead of just thinking them to myself!
— Write the Word Wednesday + Bible journaling. Every Wednesday, the kids and I do our Write the Word journals together. I’m adding Bible journaling to this so I spend time praying over Grace and writing notes to her in her Bible in prep for this new school year.

August Daily Goals:

— Chronological Bible. I’m continuing my number one goal with this daily Bible reading using the Blue Letter Bible Chronological reading plan on Youversion.
— Strength + Joy – This is my goal to strength train. I do abs and some free weights here at home with the kiddos!

Verses I’m loving for August:

‘The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures…’ (Psalm 23:1-2).

‘In you, Lord my God, I put my trust.’ (Psalm 25:1).

‘Does a farmer plow and never sow? Is he forever cultivating the soil and never planting? Does he not finally plant his seeds…’ (Isaiah 28:24-25).

Your turn! Do you have goals for August? What are you cultivating in this new month? I’ll pick one of you to send a special surprise box of goodies to from the Cultivate What Matters shop. I love sending real mail, and I love hearing your thoughts! Congrats to July’s winner, Bonnie!

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